THE combination of a guest soloist and two expert choral tenors in this weekend’s Choral Society concert makes it a “three tenors” occasion, says musical director Gavin Maclean.
Wellington’s Chris Berentson, who sang here early this year in the performance of St Paul, will sing the challenging role of St Nicolas, in Benjamin Britten’s beautiful and dramatic setting of the story. He will be joined by former Gisborne man Philip Roderick and Jeffrey Chang, also from Wellington, who both have extensive experience in the New Zealand Youth Choir.
It’s a festive concert, a precursor of Christmas, with St Nicolas followed by a rousing and uplifting Bach cantata, Gloria in excelsis Deo, which Bach wrote for a Christmas Day performance, Maclean says.
“Its two choruses are happy outbursts, assisted by orchestra and trumpet effects from the organ, and sandwiching a delicate duet, for Berentson and well-known soprano Catherine Macdonald.”
Co-starring with the Choral Society is the Gisborne Civic Orchestra, in full force and augmented by a piano duet (Margaret Dunsmore and Coralie Hunter), Sonja Schutte on the organ and three percussionists — Tracy Hodgetts, Stephanie Hakiwai and Clyde Smith.
“Benjamin Britten’s music was extremely modern when it was written in 1948, and still is striking in its originality and the dramatic and sometimes comical way he uses the colours of so many instruments, plus the addition of a girls choir and hymns for audience participation at the end of each section,” Maclean said.
“The organic way these hymns rise from the preceding music is great fun,” he added.
“You do not have to be religious to enjoy such inventive and beautiful music, that so cleverly combines the holy with the humorous.”
■ St Nicolas and Christmas Cantata will be presented at St Andrew’s Church on Sunday (2pm).